"With a minor effort on our part we can help preserve the environment as well as keep our city and holy land clean and beautiful," top Orthodox rabbis tell their followers, quoting from the scriptures to encourage the communities to participate in city's recycling project.
by Yehuda Shlezinger
Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau: Separating waste is a mitzvah.
Photo credit: Moshe Shai
Critics of Israel's Orthodox establishment claim it is out of touch with modern life, but apparently those critics haven't visited any Tel Aviv synagogues lately. Synagogues in the Israeli metropolitan are calling on their congregants to make the effort to separate their trash.
A written newsletter signed by Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and a former chief rabbi of Israel, and Rabbi Moshe Maya, the head of the Zikron Moshe yeshiva in the city and a former Shas Knesset member, quotes Jewish sources that emphasize the importance of protecting the environment. The letter is currently making the rounds in Tel Aviv's Orthodox synagogues.
"Our rabbis teach us of the importance of preserving the environment for our own sakes and for those who come after us," the two rabbis write. The letter also describes the recent joint initiative by the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Tel Aviv Municipality to separate trash and encourage recycling in the city, and urge the faithful to take part in the effort. "With a minor effort on our part we can help preserve the environment as well as keep our city and holy land clean and beautiful ... Please give your hearts and minds to this effort."
Rabbi Maya for his part explains that because recycling bestows value on trash, anyone who throws out trash indiscriminately without separating recyclables is transgressing the Biblical commandment of Bal Taschit (do not destroy). "Through a small effort, we will be saved from transgressing a negative commandment," writes Maya.
Over 250,000 residents from 31 local municipalities currently participate in the Ministry's recycling project and it is estimated that this number will jump to 1.5 million by 2014.